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Hoarding conditions discovered in Havre de Grace fatal fire but wasn’t reason woman couldn’t escape, officials say

Six Marylanders have died in fires in recent weeks and hoarding conditions were discovered in three of the residences, including a fatal fire near Havre de Grace, according to investigators.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal said hoarding behavior can lead to newspapers, magazines and other materials that could be flammable being collected.

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Hoarding can also put occupants of a home at risk because materials may block exits preventing their escape; it also puts first responders at risk due to obstructed exits or falling objects, and impedes their ability to search for and rescue people or pets, the fire marshal’s office said.

On Nov. 20, a house fire in the 2400 block of Old Robinhood Road in Harford County left a woman dead.

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Senior Deputy Fire Marshall Oliver Alkire said Tuesday that there was evidence of hoarding conditions discovered in the home during the investigation, however, “we have no reason to believe that it hindered her ability to escape.”

Last week, Alkire said the woman appeared to have been asleep when the fire began and was able to get up from bed, but collapsed within the home, where firefighters found her body after putting out the blaze.

An autopsy had been completed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, but investigators did not wish to release the woman’s identity or the cause of death at this time, Alkire said Tuesday.

Because of the fire’s “destructive force,” he said investigators may not be able to determine its exact cause and origin within the structure.

The fire was reported around 5:19 a.m. Nov. 20 when neighbors called 911. About 50 firefighters from the Aberdeen Fire Department, Susquehanna Hose Company and other departments responded and were able to control the fire within an hour, according to the fire marshal’s office. There were no smoke alarms in the home, according to the fire marshal.

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